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RUSSIA - Apr. 18 - Gusinsky's Extradition Refused.

Spain's Highest Court refuses to extradite Gusinsky who is battling the Kremlin to face fraud charges in Moscow. The judges rule, 2 to 1, that there is no criminal case to answer. But Gusinsky is ordered to remain under house arrest in Sotogrande until the Spanish prosecutor, acting on Moscow's behalf, decides in the next three days whether to appeal the decision. (Moscow accuses Gusinsky of fraudulently raising $300m in loans from Gazprom. He says the case against him is politically motivated). The three judges note "questionable and peculiar circumstances, not usually seen in a judicial accusation of fraud" surrounding the extradition request. They note that nations are obliged "to deny extraditions in which they have detected motives other than judicial persecution" and say the accused has claimed "with some reason" to have identified such a motive. The ruling recognises an "economic conflict" between Gusinsky and Gazprom, but says it should be resolved in a civil, not a criminal, court, adding Gusinsky's actions do not amount to a crime under Spanish law. Gusinsky's Spanish lawyer Domingo Plazas says his client "is happy with the decision" but was "obviously worried about what is happening in Moscow at the moment. The events of the past few weeks in Russia show that the intention of the Russian government in making the extradition request is to silence the voice of the country's only independent media group". He also accuses Moscow of "illegally deposing Gusinsky from his group of companies", adding: "We don't know yet what he is going to do, but he'll try to fight for his companies and for his people in Russia". On Apr. 18, the State Prosecutor at the High Court in Madrid Eduardo Fungairino said he would not appeal a ruling that rejected Moscow's request to extradite Gusinsky. He said he believed an appeal would not succeed because the arguments against the extradition "are very solid". Gusinsky said: "We taught the government the power of journalists. That's why Mr. Putin wants to control us. We aren't in opposition to the government, we are just not standing in its line". Gusinsky will be free to travel within three days.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:4EXRU
Date:Apr 21, 2001
Words:358
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